Rob Dauster

VIDEO: Florida title teams honored as Mr. Two Bits

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Mr. Two Bits is a tradition that has been going on at Florida football games for nearly 70 years. It started with a gentleman named George Edmondson, who led the cheer from 1949 until 2008, when he finally retired from the cheerleading game.

Since then, the Gators have used honorary Mr. Two Bits in the role, and on Saturday, it was Florida’s two-time title winning basketball team that led the cheers.

That team came out of nowhere to win the 2006 national title. Then, Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer all opted to return to school for another season, winning the 2007 title as they beat Mike Conley, Greg Oden and Ohio State in the final.

Noah, Horford and Brewer are all still earning NBA paychecks, as is Billy Donovan, who is now the head coach of the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ben Howland’s latest five-star headlines flurry of weekend commitments

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Was there ever any doubt that Ben Howland was going to be able to get players to Starkville?

Over the weekend, Howland landed a commitment from five-star point guard Nick Weatherspoon, a top 30 prospect in the Class of 2017, during a visit to campus this weekend.

Nick is the younger brother of Quinndary, a sophomore shooting guard for the Bulldogs that outplayed top ten recruit Malik Newman this past season. Newman eventually transferred out of the program while Weatherspoon is poised to be a potential all-SEC player this season.

“He’s an ultra-aggressive guard who plays in constant attack mode,” Scott Phillips, NBCSports.com’s recruiting analyst, said of Nick. “A gifted scorer with a lethal pull-up game, Weatherspoon will have to reign in his wild streaks, but he’s a difference-maker who should come in and contribute right away.”

Weatherspoon is Howland’s first commitment in 2017 and the second five-star player that he has pulled into Starkville; Newman was the other. For 2016, Howland brought in a recruiting class that includes six four-star prospects.

RECRUITING ROUNDUP

  • VCU picked up their point guard of the future as four-star guard Lavar Betts committed to Will Wade and the Rams. Betts is the perfect fit for Wade’s half-court havoc style. He’s fast, he’s athletic, he’s aggressive and he’s talented. He’s VCU’s first commitment in the class.
  • Iowa picked up a pair of commitments on Saturday. Big man Luka Garza, a top 100 prospect, was the first to pledge while Jack Nunge pledged later in the day. Both players will help bolster Fran McCaffery’s front court.
  • Tad Boyle also landed a pair of small forwards on official visits. Tyler Bey, a four-star prospect from California, and D’Shawn Schwartz, a four-star recruit from Colorado, both committed to Colorado on Saturday.
  • Providence reached into the Mid-Atlantic and landed a commitment from top 100 big man Nate Watson.
  • Minnesota picked up a commitment from a top 100 point guard in Isaiah Washington. A New York City native, Washington, who is the first commitment in the 2017 class for the Gophers, has long had a relationship with Gopher assistant Kimani Young.
  • Kansas State landed their first commitment in 2017 as Mike McGuirl, a sharpshooter from Connecticut, picked the Wildcats over a handful of Atlantic 10 and mid-major programs.

Top ten prospect Kevin Knox cuts list to five

Kevin Knox, Jon Lopez/Nike
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Kevin Knox is a top ten prospect in the Class of 2017, and he’s being recruited like it.

A 6-foot-7 small forward from Florida, Knox holds an offer from both Duke and Kentucky, and both of those schools made the top five as Knox cut his list on Friday night. Kansas, North Carolina and Florida State were the other three schools on Knox’s list.

Knox has the tools to be a terrific pro down the line. He’s got the length and athleticism to play the wing in the NBA, and his skill set and three point range are advanced enough to project a pretty high ceiling.

Duke, Kansas, Syracuse make top five for top 30 point guard

Matt Coleman (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Matt Coleman, a top 30 recruit and one of the nation’s top point guards, has cut his list to five schools, he announced

The five schools that made it?

Duke, Kansas, Syracuse, Texas and Stanford.

Coleman is one of a handful of point guard prospects at the top of the class that are waiting to see how the dominoes at the position fall. Is Trevon Duval really going to spurn the big boys? If he does, will Kentucky pull Trae Young out of Oklahoma? Will Duke or Syracuse — or someone else — land Quade Green? And how will Matt Coleman fit into all of that?

Well, we’re going to find out, right?

VIDEO: Remember when Shaq jumped over a dude at LSU?

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Everyone remembers how dominant Shaquille O’Neal was in the NBA, but what they may not realize is that the Diesel was just as awesome, if not better, during his three seasons at LSU.

A two-time, first-team All-American, Shaq averaged 27.4 points, 14.7 boards and 5.2 blocks as a sophomore, winning National Player of the Year. He followed that up with a pedestrian 24.1 points, 14.0 boards and 5.0 blocks as a junior.

Those numbers are stupid, which makes sense because Shaq, as you can see above, was a cheat code when he was in college.

He was also responsible for one of the best dunks in the history of the sport. Check this out:

NC State’s Reynolds Coliseum ready to show off a new look

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 21:  Head coach Mark Gottfried of the North Carolina State Wolfpack looks on from the bench during the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum new look has been completed, and just in time for a new school year.

The $35 million renovation project to add modern touches while preserving the history of the nearly 70-year-old, tradition-rich campus arena was finished in August. The programs displaced for more than a year have moved back in, Reynolds hosts its first sports event Friday and the school has scheduled a re-opening ceremony next week.

Athletic director Debbie Yow said all that’s left are small details such as touch-up paint.

“I think we moved in maybe two weeks later than the original plan,” Yow said. “That’s a small price to pay.”

Work began on Reynolds in March 2015, displacing sports such as women’s basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling to play at temporary venues through the 2015-16 sports season.

Reynolds opened in 1949 near the heart of the Raleigh campus. It was best known as the half-century home to the men’s basketball program – spanning the careers of program greats such as David Thompson and late coach Jim Valvano – before the program moved off campus in 1999.

The project included ripping out about 2,800 seats and shifting the arena bowl to one end of the building. That made room for a sports walk of fame, which weaves around Reynolds from a grand hall and through the concourses.

There’s also a video control room to produce broadcasts of Wolfpack sporting events for the newly created Atlantic Coast Conference digital channel and eventually the ACC Network when the TV channel launches in 2019.

Still, the arena bowl has a familiar look, though with a down-sized capacity of around 5,500.

The entrance hall features display cases honoring coaches such as late Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Kay Yow and athletes who went on to compete professionally or in the Olympics. Interactive touchscreens allow visitors to navigate through the Wolfpack’s sports history, including a large multi-panel wall featuring trivia questions, photos and digital wolves who occasionally howl before running off screen.

The school also mounted the building’s old noise meter – a tower of light bulbs that lit up one-by-one – above the hall. Visitors can operate it with a sliding switch that sends audio from an old radio game broadcast echoing through the hall.

The volleyball team plays here Friday against Delaware. The official re-opening is set for Sept. 16 with the latest inductions to the walk of fame.

“It’s been four years of planning and 16 months of construction,” said Michael Lipitz, a deputy athletics director who served as chairman of the project committee. “It was good to move the teams back in last week and see the student-athletes out on the court practicing.

“We’re ready for prime time and ready for people to experience everything that’s here now.”

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org